Itanagar: With externally aided projects not coming to the frontier state ‘for stated and unstated reasons’, Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein on Thursday reiterated the plea before the Centre for alternate source of financing to ‘compensate’ the state for the ‘opportunities’ lost.
He also appealed for strengthening infrastructure in the border areas.
Attending the pre-Budget consultative meeting convened by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi, Mein requested the Finance Ministry to consider an appropriate mechanism to ‘fortify’ the state against the capital, opportunity losses due to non-availability of
funding from multilateral development banks and other international financing institutions to Arunachal Pradesh.
Mein, also the Minister in-charge of Finance and Planning, suggested the Govt of India to consider providing project specific grants at the rate of Rs 1500 crore per year under any window similar to erstwhile Special Plan Assistance (SPA).
As an alternative, he also proposed for an interest free 50-year loan at the rate of Rs 1500 crore per year over and above the normal borrowing limits prescribed by the FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management) Act for consideration, official sources said here.
Also raising the issue regarding the urgency in development of areas near international borders, he said, depopulation of border areas for the want of better infrastructure is a reality and poses a serious challenge in the background of a series of ‘model’ villages and infrastructure being developed across the border with the aim to increase the population.
He, however, said, “We have seen unprecedented growth in the border infrastructure during the last 5-7 years”.
He also informed that the State Government is pursuing a composite proposal for border areas development including multiple projects like construction of roads, drinking water, health and education infrastructure, installation of micro hydel power projects, and solar street lights.
Once sanctioned, this project would provide much better infrastructure in the border areas with resultant boost in the economic activities encouraging the people to return to their native places, he said and earnestly requested Govt of India for early clearance of this project which is under active consideration with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Mein also sought flexibility to be given to the North East states to design customized projects wherever the ministries are not able to spend 10% GBS (Gross Budgetary Support) on their earmarked schemes and programmes in the region and to seek funding from the balance of 10% GBS.
He said this will ensure increased capital expenditure in NE and also would not distort the inter-se allocations within the specified sectors.
Mein also requested the Govt of India to set up a ‘special task force’ for improving trade, connectivity and economic infrastructure in the NE Region for providing specific and actionable recommendations for the next 10 years citing that task force can also be entrusted to empirically analyze the cost disabilities in NER so that we provide suitable and necessary cost indexing for projects in NER.
He further requested for doubling allocations for the schemes under the North Eastern Council (NEC), Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and Border Area Development Programme (BADP) from the current very low levels, the sources added.